Way back in 2011, when I was freshly married and didn’t have any kids and had a TON of free time on my hands, I took a risk and decided to reupholster a thrift store chair. I also decided that, despite my not having any experience in this, I was going to blog about my chair reupholstery adventure. This, too, was risky because the chances that this chair would turn out well were on the low side. Nevertheless, I dove into this new endeavor of mine and, against all odds, my first reupholstery job turned out rather nice (you can read about the whole process here, here and here) (please ignore that the photos are terrible).
After my successful first chair I decided to tackle a much more challenging chair: the bergere chair. This is a French-style chair that I am pretty much obsessed with. It features a wide, deep seat and practically begs you to read a novel or take a nap every time you sit in it. My new project was a Craigslist find with good bones but a horrid circa-1992 fabric. Oh, and a dog had chewed off the foam on the arms. It was definitely a project piece but it also turned out really well and it’s still my favorite piece of furniture in my living room (you can read more about it’s transformation here).
About a year or two after that second chair, I bought yet another bergere chair that I had every intention of reupholstering within a few months. This chair was also a Craigslist find and it had some really special green velvet upholstery. But it was in great shape and I knew that with a little love and some new fabric, it would be an amazing piece.
But then…I had kids and my green velvet chair has remained a green velvet chair for going on 5 years now. It has been an eyesore (in my mind) in my living room and a constant reminder that I have yet one more unfinished project hanging over my head. Not to mention the fact that my husband keeps trying to forbid me from buying more chairs since I “can’t finish the one I already bought.”
So this past week when dear old hubby was out of the country on business, I decided it would be a brilliant time to tackle reupholstering the green velvet chair. Because I clearly don’t have enough on my plate what with moving in less than three weeks.
As stupid as my decision was, I’m glad I decided to do it because I work best under pressure. It took me a week and a half, but my green velvet chair is no more and I am thrilled with how it turned out!
- Remove all the old fabric as carefully as possible. I use all the old fabric as my pattern for cutting out the new fabric. Label all the pieces of the fabric so I know where it all came from and how it goes back together. I usually leave all the foam and batting on the chair as long as it doesn’t interfere with painting the frame.
- Remove all the staples using a flat head screwdriver and needle nose pliers. There is probably a more professional way to do this, but this is what works best for me. Be careful: I have stabbed myself with a screwdriver more times than I care to admit while reupholstering chairs.
- Paint the frame of the chair. This time I went with a gray paint instead of my typical white.
- Cut out the pieces of new fabric using your old fabric as a template. Start sewing cording (I chose to do a double cording). Start sewing cushion pieces together. (Side note: I am not a great seamstress. My method of sewing involves a lot of “winging it” and a fair amount of muttering obscenities at my sewing machine. But it seems to work well, so give it a shot!)
- Staple new fabric onto the frame (using this upholstery gun and an air compressor). Trim the excess fabric. Hot glue new cording over staples.
- Add your newly upholstered cushions, grab a glass of wine and enjoy your new chair!
Totally easy, right? I’m starting to understand why I procrastinated doing this for five years. It was an intense, time consuming process. BUT it is so worth it in the end. Just look at my “new” chair:
She’s definitely not perfect. I can’t tell you how many mistakes I made. But she’s so much better than the green velvet monstrosity she was before. And she fits perfectly into my decor in the living room now. I’d venture to say, she’s the star of the show!